(Great for Sports Cars or Motorcycles)
We have a beautiful little 1990 Mazda Miata that I purchased from a friend of ours. “Golf Club” Bill passed away from cancer a few years back, and his wife Becky sold me the car.
We usually drive about 1000 to 1500 miles a year on one to two day road trips around Ohio and surrounding states.
I think the longest trip we have taken so far with the Miata is to the Smoky Mountains to drive the
Tail of the Dragon. But that is a story for another day.
This May Mother’s Day weekend was sunny and warm so we decided to drive to one of our favorite little towns: Marietta, Ohio.
|Shops in Downtown Marietta|
In 1788, a group of men arrived at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio rivers and established the first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territory. It was named Marietta in honor of Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, who had aided the young country in its battle for independence from Great Britain.
It may be faster to take Interstate 70 to Interstate 77 south to Marietta, but route 60 is a prettier drive, and fun, especially if you’re driving a convertible or motorcycle.
And you get to drive through the charming little town of McConnellsville!
If you have enough time, you may want to stop for lunch at the
Blue Bell Diner in McConnelsville.
It is reminiscent of a 1950’s diner, complete with counter seating and delicious cheeseburgers.
McConnelsville also has Erie Canal Locks, an old Opera House, War statues, the Button House museum and beautiful historic mansions.
This little town could take another whole day of exploring! (Which we have done).
We continued on Route 60, arriving in downtown Marietta and our accommodations, the Historic Lafayette Hotel. The Lafayette Hotel is in the heart of historic downtown Marietta, walking distance to the riverfront, shops and restaurants.
|The Lafayette Hotel|
One of the last riverboat-era hotels, the Lafayette opened in 1918, with each room decorated in period antique furniture. It was named after Marquis de Lafayette. The hotel has a distinctive triangular shape, and some guest rooms have views of the Ohio or Muskingum rivers. Our favorite rooms are on the point of the building’s triangle.
The hotel has a collection of long rifles, an 11 foot pilot wheel from a real river steamboat, a ballroom, a bar and a restaurant.
|Guest rooms decorated with period Antiques|
Although the Lafayette has a restaurant, for breakfast we usually take the short walk to Harmar Village and the Harmar Tavern.
Harmar Tavern is famous for their bologna sandwich, but breakfast is great too!
To get to Harmar Village, drive the few blocks from the Hotel or for the more adventurous like us, walk across the historic railroad bridge. The front desk can give you directions.
|Old railway bridge to Harmar Village|
|View from the old railway bridge to Harmar Village|
Historic Harmar Village has brick streets, street lamp posts, restored train cars, historic buildings, and home to various shops, eateries and three museums.
|Shops in Harmar Village|
|Shops in Harmar Village|
With full bellies we begin our day’s adventure. We start by touring the Henderson Hall mansion, which is just a short drive from Marietta.
The mansion is located across the Ohio River on Route 2, in Williamstown, WV. An Italianate Villa-style mansion, Henderson Hall is a nineteenth-century time capsule.
|Historic Henderson Hall|
|Tour of Henderson Hall and grounds|
|Hune Covered Bridge|
Provisions: Food, drinks and snacks to be shared by all, but not to be confused with Rations.
Rations: A snack just for oneself, in case you run out of provisions.
(Our daughter Alexis’s definition)
There is one little store/carryout in Marr, Ohio called Park’s General Store. It’s on State Route 260 and looks pretty much like it would have looked 50 or 75 years ago. Here you can get drinks and snacks, finally!
Before heading back to the Lafayette Hotel, we conclude our day by having dinner at the House of Wines on SR 60, just north of Marietta.
|House of Wine's French Onion Soup!|
The House of Wines features the largest variety of American and imported wines in the Mid-Ohio Valley, and stocks over 400 imported and micro-brewed beers. One of the things that keeps bringing us back is the food! Their Swiss (French) Onion soup is to die for. And cheese and meat tray with sourdough bread and homemade horseradish sauce is wonderful too.
|House of Wine's cheese and meat tray with sourdough bread|
Like a bottle from one of Ohio's very own winery: Mon Ami Winery.
The owner of the House of Wines, Erlan Wheeler, is a nice guy but not real talkative. I guess he lets the atmosphere and great food do the talking for him. and boy does their food talk to me! I rarely order desserts having usually eaten too much dinner, but their desserts are well worth it. My favorite so far is the Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake! Heaven!
|Austyn's Restaurant's Black and Bleu Ribeye|
After a long day, it is wonderful to get back to the Hotel. For a night cap you may want to stop in at the Lafayette Hotel's on site bar, or check to see if they are hosting a roof top party. We were lucky enough to attend one of the hotel's roof top parties, which was very romantic: tables set with candles and cocktails on the Hotel roof overlooking the soft glow of downtown Marietta at night.
Just a note: This is just one trip around Marietta. There is so much to see and do in the area and Parkersburg, West Virginia is just over the bridge.
Also for a less expensive trip (not counting gas) pack sandwiches instead of eating out, camp instead of a Hotel, or just go for the day instead of the weekend. If you chose to go camping, I recommend you still stop in and visit the Lafayette Hotel, just to see it.
It is one of a kind.
For more things and do in Marietta and the surrounding area:
Marietta's Covered bridges
Harmar Village and Hartel Shipyard
Ohio River Museum
Things to see and Do in Marietta
Appalachian Wine Trail